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Leah Tsinajinnie – Navajo Professional Disc Golfer – Pow Wow Life Podcast Episode 32

Leah Tsinajinnie – Navajo Professional Disc Golfer – Pow Wow Life Podcast Episode 32

Posted By Paul G August 24th, 2021 Last Updated on: September 1st, 2021

Leah Tsinajinnie recently changed sports from Ultimate to Disc Golf.  She was a collegiate National Champion and professional Ultimate player.  Leah is now on the professional disc golf tour.  

In July Leah was elected to the Professional Disc Golf Association Board of Directors.  She has been working with the PDGA to grow the sport in BIPOC communities.  

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Welcome to Pow-Wow Life podcast from PowWows.com, connecting you as native culture since 1996. Here's your host, Paul Gowder.

Welcome back to another episode of the Pow-Wow Life podcast. I'm Paul Gowder, founder of PowWows.com. Thank you all for being here again. During the pandemic, lots of things were shut down. Pow-wows stopped. Schools went virtual. Most people worked from home for months. One thing that exploded during the pandemic was disc golf. If you're not familiar, this is literally taking a Frisbee and throwing it toward a basket. Baskets are made of chains, and has little metal baskets at the bottom. It's basically playing golf, but with Frisbees. It was a great sport just right for the timing of the pandemic, because you could go out and play with just yourself or your family, and distance yourself.

The sport has seen hundreds of thousands of people join over the last few months, and one of those is Leah Tssinajinnie. She is an Ultimate Frisbee player who came over to disc golf from the ultimate world, and has done fantastic in her first couple of years playing disc golf. She's already joined the professional tour and is out there traveling to disc golf tournaments every weekend, and doing quite well for herself. And recently, she was elected by the highest vote of all those up for election to the Professional Disc Golf Association Board of Directors. It's great to see native representation with a sport like this, and she's working with the PDGA to bring this to under-served populations and really get the sport out there.

I'm excited for you to hear her interview. I'll encourage you to go follow her on Instagram and follow her tournaments, and watch how she does and how she grows into the sport to become one of the top competitors in disc golf. If you haven't tried it, get out and grab a Frisbee, and go play it. There are special discs designed just for disc golf. They've got them at Walmart, Academy Sports, and of course Amazon. Give it a try. I have become addicted. I am playing every weekend. I've played in a couple of tournaments, not doing as well as Leah does, but I'm having fun. My family plays with me. We've gone to a couple courses in other towns. It is a great sport, and it's so easy to get into.

It's not golf where you have to pay green fees. Most courses are public, and they're out there. You just go grab a disc and start throwing at the basket. Super fun. Give it a try. Thank you, Leah, for spending time with us here on the Pow-Wow Nation podcast. All right, a couple of other things before we get to the interview, don't forget we are celebrating our 25th anniversary here at PowWows.com, and you can enter to win a great contest. We've got 25 Pendleton blankets. We're giving away 25 blankets for 25 years. Just head over to www.PowWows.com/25. Www.PowWows.com/25. At the end of the episode, like we do every week, I will give you a bonus code for extra entries that only is available on this podcast.

Please also go and leave us a review over at Apple Podcasts. That really helps more people discover the show. I'd love to have more listeners enjoying these great interviews. Each Tuesday, I will draw a name from all those who have left reviews on Apple Podcasts, and select one person at random to receive 10 of our PowWow stickers. If you're interested in those, head on over to our www.PowWows.com/shop. We've got those and other great merchandise on sale, and would appreciate your support there. Thank you so much for shopping. Go like us and give us a review over on Apple Podcasts. I'd really appreciate that.

All right everybody, thanks for being here on another episode of the PowWow Life podcast. I hope you enjoy this interview with Leah Tssinajinnie, and get out there, grab a disc and give it a try.

I am super excited to have with me tonight Leah Tssinajinnie, who is a professional disc golfer, candidate for the Professional Disc Golf Association Board of Directors. Leah, thank you so much for being here.

Hi, thank you so much for having me.

I just got into disc golf, played about a year. It was exciting to see your name come up when I was looking at my ballot for the PDGA Board of Directors. Before we get into the disc golf and everything else. Tell me about your background and where you're from.

I was born in California, but I've lived in Georgia since I was 10. On my dad's side is the Navajo side. He grew up in Klagetoh in Arizona. On my mom's side, I'm part first generation American. She immigrated from the Philippines in the 70s. From there, I just went to Georgia Tech, started playing Ultimate Frisbee in college, and then last year in the pandemic I had already been playing Ultimate for about 12 years, and when I couldn't play Ultimate, I picked up disc golf. That was a really exciting thing for me. As you can tell, I just jumped right into it, and haven't looked back.

I saw when I was looking at some of the videos, yeah jumping in, you've already played over 30 events. Coming off the Ultimate, I think a lot of people are making that jump. Last year, disc golf really did explode during COVID. It was a sport that even myself, when I was home from work working remotely, my daughter and I for I think two months straight, we played every single day. It was super exciting to be able to do that.

I think a lot of people found the sport that way. Coming from Ultimate, how has the transition been?

For me, it was a very.... I wouldn't say easy, because it was a lot of growing and learning pains, but definitely a natural transition. I really love just any sort of physical activity, like besides disc golf, I love running. I've done a couple of 5Ks this year. I've always just been an athlete. Just like you, I was playing every day and then I was watching videos, what videos could I watch. I watched Simon's videos, Kona Panis videos trying to figure out okay, I want to get better.

Really, the hardest thing was just learning the different discs, especially the faster discs. I'm a lefty as well, so I didn't really have much to lean on in terms of copying my friends, because that's how I went out originally, was I just joined my friends that had already been playing disc golf. I definitely had to kind of make my own path, and a lot of practice rounds by myself, just casually, just to learn all these new discs. I've tried a lot of discs. I throw every manufacturer until I get that first big disc manufacturer sponsor. I've been trying everything.

I went out today and I got four or five discs from Latitude. Throwing those today, loving those.

Yeah, I want the Grace.

Yeah, I'm still throwing slower speed discs. I don't have the arm for the big speed discs. That's cool. For people not familiar with disc golf, and especially professional disc golf, touring professionals, it's much like some of our folks in the pow-wow circuit who are traveling around the country going to different pow-wows, competing and making a living out of this. You've started touring and started going to some of the professional events, right?

Yes. I am a full-time touring professional this season. I've been going to as many of the tournaments as any of the other touring pros.

That's awesome. That's awesome. I think people in the pow-wow world can definitely relate to that. It's the grind of doing that every week and making a living at it. I know it's a difficult life on the road, but one that's I'm sure super exciting and pretty awesome. I was looking at your PDGA website of entries, and I'll link this in the show notes, 38 events in just your short time playings, you joined the PDGA officially like December 2020 it looks like, or maybe a little before that?

Yeah, that was when I became a certified official, but I joined I think June 15th, right around there. That would have been a month into me playing, finding disc golf.

That's awesome. Yeah, your PDGA number is only a few thousand ahead of mine. Already, just looking at your career on the PDGA website, already you've got some amazing accomplishments, a third at the putting contest, at Professional World this year, and several wins. So far, what has been the highlights for you on the professional tour?

Certainly, the US Women's Disc Golf championships. I've been tied for 17th there, so that's my highest finish at a major, and it's also been my biggest payout for an event. Until Worlds this year, which was very recent, past three weeks ago, that was the highest number of women in an event. There were 62 of us, I think. Then at World, we had 70 FPOs, so female pros. That was our biggest yield ever competing in it. The tie for 17th, having a top 20 finish in that big of an event was really exciting for me, and then also getting third at the Worlds Putting Competition was really surprising honestly, because putting is my favorite part of the game.

I've been learning a new grip in the past week, so I'm always working on my putting game. That's my favorite part. I think that's where a lot of the female pros, besides all the distance throwers, that's where you really need to get your strokes is on the putting green. It's been super fun, especially just traveling and getting to meet new friends. We see each other every week. You set up practice rounds to practice with different players, newer friends, and ones that you've been getting to know along the way.

Really, the community for me, is what's been the most encouraging part, really feeling like I could stick with it, especially the women. The women have been super uplifting and encouraging to me, even when I finished 17th. I had people that have been in the game for years and years message me saying that they were proud of me and to keep it up. It was really cool.

The disc golf community in the little time I've been in it, is very welcoming. One of the things I like about the sport is it has a low barrier of entry unit. It's really easy to go out there and do, and it's still kind of early. You were talking about watching Simon videos, Kona videos. I know there's a lot of people out there that are watching pow-wow videos the same way, watching Northern Cree or some of these guys. You can still go to a pow-wow and you can still meet these guys, the same thing with disc golf.

You've probably now played with Kona after watching her videos and learn. I think that's a really cool part of the sport. You're not so far removed from the fans and the community, is really strong. First, you're on tour. You've already hit some major accomplishments. What are your goals for the rest of the season and beyond?

I'm really just trying to build better and more often, more frequent online just because I do have a unique perspective and I want to make sure that the people that want to see women and especially women of color, and what they're doing in the sport, I would love to just be part of that content on Instagram, Facebook. I also do a lot on Twitter. So, trying to make more YouTube videos, and especially all of that kind of stuff goes into building my brand and trying to get my name out there so I can get more sponsors, because the payouts aren't how the pros make a living.

It's everything behind the scenes that helps them with their expenses of touring full-time. I'm doing the best that I can so far. My biggest sponsor is OTB Discs. They're one of the biggest online retailers. Having even just that kind of sponsor helps with my hopes of getting more opportunities in the future.

Yeah, it's all about getting a disc sponsorship, like something like this.

Oh, yeah. That's a nice one. When did those ones come out again? I forget when Brodie got 1,000.

It was in the summer, I think. I was actually standing in line at Disney World when I ordered that one.

Yeah, we were actually in college at the same time.

Okay, yeah.

He went to University of Florida, and I went to Georgia Tech. That was both the southeast college region, so I knew him back when we were little 20 year olds.

Yeah, and another Ultimate crossover. There's several now of touring professionals that are making that crossover. So cool. You mentioned women and women and color. I had a similar conversation with an actress lately about representation in media, and I think it's the same thing in sports. It helps when you see somebody like you in sports, and then you can blaze a trail. What has it meant for you to be a woman of color on tour this year? How have fans reacted to that?

I think that again, that same line of just feeling super welcomed. Obviously, when you get onto the online community, people tend to be meaner, but all of my interactions in person have been super encouraging. I really do love when fans come up, and I've had people message me on Instagram and say "Thank you for being a voice out there." I do agree with that person you interviewed, that visibility matters. Whenever I can have those one-on-one interactions with people, and I can tell that I'm making a difference, it just helps me know that I'm doing the right thing because all I want is for people to have some sort of positive outlet.

I think disc golf is a great opportunity for a physical activity and connecting with a community. Definitely, love that when I'm out there, I do feel some pressure because if I ever make a mistake or whatnot, that can get attached to just bigger things than just me as an individual making a mistake. I do feel honored and humbled by the amount of weight that I feel like I'm carrying, and I only hope that I can just play this sport for however long, and when more native women, more any women of color start playing the sport, then I'm just part of a bigger group. I don't want to be the only one forever. I want what I do to actually grow this sport with people that look like me.

Right. Right. Let's talk about you're now running for the PGDA Board of Directors. How do you see the PDGA accomplishing that and spreading the sport? It's exploding. We talked about that. There are hundreds of thousands of people picking up the sport, and it's really growing. How do we get this to people of color now?

I do think that some of the initiatives that they laid out for their strategic plan are good ones. Any sort of youth initiative to me is really important. I've worked with youth since I was in my first year of college, and I've been coaching Ultimate at the youth level. I've lived abroad coaching youth in Ultimate. Any sort of engagement in that respect, and a lot of this has to be at the local level, so I have had even native disc golfers reach out to me saying that they're running this and that event, and if I can make out there, or if I can help out in any way.

If you've done that, that in itself, it has to happen at the local level is super helpful. I think with PDGA specifically, their marketing strategies could be more geared towards people of color and Indigenous people because when I even look at the logo, it's just this silhouette of a dude that I'm assuming is a white dude throwing a disc at a basket. So, immediately just from there you're like, "Ugh, that logo doesn't really speak to me." Just even small things like that are the first step. Then when you're breaking it down even more, like what kind of toolkits or resources can the PDGA provide to the smaller local levels.

We do have a grant program through the PDGA that anyone can apply to. It's the Diversity and Outreach Grant program. We've had at least two different applications with that hit native population, one in Alaska, and I think one in the northeast somewhere. I can't remember. I'm on the PDGA Diversity and Outreach Task Force. We go through those grant applications, and we have I forget how much money total that we've been allowed to allocate this year to those grant applications.

That's great. I was talking to a friend up on Cherokee Reservation. They're putting in a course.

Yes, actually that's one of them too. Yeah, so that would be three different native ones that have come up in our meetings. It's been super cool to see that. Honestly, I definitely think it's an untapped part of the PDGA membership. There's so much room for that to grow, because if you think about how even small courses could be felt, three to six or nine hole courses, there's plenty of real estate in terms of any sort of reservation that's looking to grow either through the Parks Department or whatever. That is definitely room for growth in terms of getting more native disc golfers out there.

That'd be exciting to have more on the reservations across the country. That'd be great. You mentioned some of the criticism online, and I was reading some of the comments on your interview with Terry Miller, the disc golf guy. I'll give you a chance to answer that, some of things people were saying that you're running for the Board of Directors, but yet you are, in their words, "pushing a platform of an identity or a specific gender or race". How do you answer that, and kind of what's your stance on that?

One, I think it's super unfortunate because just because there're certain words that are used, I think people get triggered by those words. Every person alive has identities, and multiple different things that you associate with yourself. I think it was unfortunate that that person really just hung on to that word that I used, because I said "identities" probably twice. I also mentioned that I was a woman of color multiple times. Look down the ballot. I really was the only woman of color on the ballot.

It was just kind of funny that it's obvious, but I do have to make a point of it because there's not enough of us in terms of when we look at a ballot of eight candidates, and it's all older white men, and then there's one woman that's 30 years old running for the Board, and everyone is older than me, everyone is white, and everyone has been playing this sport for longer than me. But if you look through my professional experience and disc golf experience, it's very clear that I'm not just on there just to be that one diverse candidate on there, because I am a qualified candidate, and I bring diversity to the sport.

I think one of the harder things for me that I'm still learning is that I do have a certain set of vernacular and words that I use when I'm thinking about growing diversity, and being more inclusive within different communities. I do also have to learn how to talk to people that aren't using those words in their day to day life. When people get triggered by me saying diversity, or triggered by me saying identity, this is my identity, I have to learn to step away from that and just talk in a different way because I'm not trying to say something that makes someone feel offended. I'm trying to express myself and say, "Hey, this is why my voice matters."

If people are offended by me saying that, then I just need to connect with them a different way. I do believe that online forums, it's a very low percentage chance. So, we're actually going to be able to communicate effectively and listen to each other's sides, and then come to some sort of consensus from there, because a lot of things these days are polarized, even things that aren't political, are political these days. It's being able to step away from that.

These kinds of things, like we're having this one-on-one conversation, I think are super helpful to breaking those barriers of whether it's communication or just not understanding. I would love to respond to those people, but in comment back and forth, it's just not going to work. At some point, I just have to ignore it and just hope that maybe one day we could connect in a better mode of communication.

I agree so much. It's so true. Things are polarized now. Some people, they're looking for those keywords to just set them off. For me, I think it's super exciting to have new fresh ideas with the PDGA. The sport is at such an important crossroads, and we've got so much money and eyes coming into the sport. Paul McBeth and the $10 million deal, ESPN getting ready to put more tournaments on air. It's time for some fresh ideas.

Obviously, the PDGA needs some fresh ideas, so that's exciting. Now I got to geek out and ask you some disc golf questions. You said you love putting, and putting is one of your strong suits. What are you putting with right now?

I putt with the Paige Pierce Fierce. For those of you that don't know, Page Pierce is the best women... Awesome. Love it. She's the best player in the game in the FPO, and she's actually my OTB teammate, so we're teammates through OTB Discs. She's an amazing player. When I originally was putting with Paul McBeth's Lunas, I switched to the Fierce because I was like, "Well, I want to rep Paige's discs." So, I started putting with her discs.

That's awesome. I actually have both in my bag. I usually use the Fierce for a pro [inaudible 00:26:59] and then putt with the Lunas. That's cool, though.

Yeah.

What are we driving with? And how far are you throwing? Are you up there with the Catrina? Are you one of the big throwers out there on tour?

I'm not up there yet, but I'm getting there because I parked a 400 foot hole, granted it was downhill so I was probably playing closer to 360 or 370. I am getting more distance. Honestly, I'm not even worried about what my distance is right now, because I know it's going to get at least 50 feet to 100 feet longer. The biggest distance throwers in the game for FPO can throw around 500, but that's not with control. That would be like if they were going for max distance. On the course, more likely you're going to see 400, 450 as being those distance throwers.

Then for me, I'm closer to 350. So, I'm trailing behind there. My control shots are going to be anywhere from 300 feet to 350 feet, and then I'm really gunning it, then I just also have to accept that those throws would be more likely to go out of bounds because I don't quite have the control yet to just be throwing it 400 feet whenever I want.

We talked about new people coming in the sport, and hopefully people of color. What would you give people out there watching, what's your advice for somebody just starting this sport? What's your best [crosstalk 00:28:38]?

The best advice I can give is that if you find out that you really love it, then have a friend to go with on the course with you because if you're an introvert or whatever, and you like your alone time and doing it that way, I did that a lot. Have a friend, and then just watch some videos because that's really where I learned to love the game, is the big personalities in this sport. You have the Brodie Smith videos, and his discs, and Paige Pierce herself has videos that she makes. Simon Lizotte is my favorite YouTube blogger in the disc golf space because he's just hilarious.

If you really want to kind of understand how the game works, the community works, watching those videos is super entertaining and it kind of inspired me to get out on the course. Starting with discs that... You don't necessarily have to go out and buy... I have a bazillion these days, but start out with three discs. Start out with whatever putter, starter kit you want. There's plenty of kits through [inaudible 00:29:57] Discraft, Westside, all of them. They have their own starter kits. They all have one putter, one mid range, and one driver. Normally, that's enough to get you through a whole round until you feel comfortable playing the sport even more.

I played all across the country at this point now. I'm starting in the Midwest, and then the tour goes kind of down the east coast and finishes in Nashville. I've played in California, Utah, Kansas, Phoenix. Anywhere you go, you can find a disc golf course. A lot of the times, it depends on how far you have to drive. Even just going out in the field and making up your own course works too. That is kind of like that accessibility to the sport, how can we make it more accessible to native communities. So, that in itself is an issue.

If you don't have a course around you, do not get discouraged by that. You can definitely just go out, find places where you can just go and make up something, while being safe because disc golf discs can be kind of unpredictable, especially if you're new to the sport.

Right. Right. Yeah, I had a friend. He had some land next to his house. He just put tape on trees.

I love that.

[crosstalk 00:31:28] just out and they just throw at trees, yeah.

That's awesome. I love that.

All right, we mentioned this before we started recording, so the World Championships just happened. For those of you not in disc golf, go Google it and look up-

Just pause it right now and then go watch.

Go look up [crosstalk 00:31:44]. All right, some places are even calling this the most clutch sports moment of all time. Where were in the shot from James Conrad happened?

Oh my gosh, I cannot handle... That moment in itself, I feel like I just lost myself. I was there. So, I already had watched an incredible finish in the women's side. Catrina Allen threw an even longer shot, so James's shot was right around 250. Catrina's shot to win was right around 350. So, this was a few hours before. She threw this crazy shot, landed in the circle and won that way. I already thought that was the highlight of the day.

James was right in the middle of the grass fairway. He had a 250 foot shot. It had to be a righty backhand, and the line had to be perfect to go into the basket the way it did. I was right behind him. So, there's the left side of the fairway and the right side of the fairway. He was throwing this way. I was behind him on the left side. It was this moment of silence when the disc was originally... Right when he released the disc, it was a moment of silence. As it was going up in the air and people realized how good of a line he had hit, people started yelling things like "Get in the basket. Get in the basket," and then you just feel your mouth dropping as you think it's going to go in.

Then it actually went in, and then just the crowd erupted. There was almost 1,500 people in this crowd. The crowd erupted, and I lost control of my body and then all of us on the sidelines just started running onto the fairway right behind him. We're all running. If you look at the clip, the one that has Anthony Barela right in it, I was not even 10 feet behind him. I'm right in there. You see Garrett Gurthie. That's right where I was because I was walking with [inaudible 00:34:08] at that point.

The most easiest thing for me to say is that it was the best thing that I'll ever see in person, sports-wise, maybe even just in general, but absolutely the most incredible sports moment in my life and in this century. Even if you don't know about disc golf, it was thinking about a Grand Slam, or a Buzzer Beater. That doesn't even amount to what this kind of moment was, because those kinds of things happened season to season every year.

Right. Right.

This isn't going to happen again. This is not going to happen again.

And it was the last shot, [crosstalk 00:35:04] championships-

Yeah.

[crosstalk 00:35:06] down by one. It's everything. Yeah.

It was everything that you could ever want in a sports moment, and then it forced the playoff. The fact that James won on hole 16 during the playoff, it was only one hole, so that would have been a three hole loop, 16, 17, 18. The fact that he went on 16, the very first hole of the playoff, was actually super fitting because he got an ace on that hole during the tournament, and he had just dominated that hole the whole tournament. Super fitting that he won on that hole, but really that shot was what even forced them to go to a playoff.

Yeah.

If you have not seen it, please go watch it. If that moment in itself doesn't make at least 5,000 more disc golfers start playing... There is going to be so many more people playing the sport just because of this one moment. It's crazy to think about it.

Yeah, it is. It's so talked about. I was on the course the next day, and I'm two fairways across. The guys on another hole just stopped like, "Did you see it?" Then we all knew what we were talking about. It's like, "Yeah, we saw [crosstalk 00:36:22]." It was really kind of cool.

Yeah, and you hear the pros that weren't at the course, you hear their stories of being at a restaurant and scaring the whole restaurant because they're watching it live. So many stories of people just losing their minds over this one shot. I went to the course and played a casual round the day after, and I tried to copy the shot with my left hand forehand. I tried to do the same thing, and I was like, "Yeah, that was once in a lifetime for sure."

You were talking about how Simon... You were watching Simon's videos. For me, when I first getting into it, it was Simon, but it was Paul and Brodie that I watched. I'm cheering for Paul and I'm like, "Oh my God, he's doing it. He's going to make this comeback." Then you see that, and the first reaction's like, "Oh my God, Paul just probably lost." But then it's like, "Oh my God, this is the most incredible thing for disc golf ever [crosstalk 00:37:19]." You couldn't not be happy for James. It was just [crosstalk 00:37:23]-

Yeah, and he's an incredible person in general. I was certainly rooting for Paul to get his sixth too, but after that, like you said, there is no one [inaudible 00:37:33] for James.

I've heard Paul say he thinks it's better for the sport for James to have won. Next disc golf question, McBeth or Climo? Who's the guy?

That's a hard one. Numbers-wise, Ken has 12 World Championships. McBeth only has five. They're playing completely different disc golf games. I listened to Ken Climo's interview on the Running It With Nate Sexton podcast-

Yeah, I heard that.

Really, really enjoyed that. It's hard for me not to root for Paul because he's still got so much life left in the game. I think if you projected out, Paul definitely... I think he overtakes Ken Climo's rise to fame, because he is an era where there is more room to make a name for yourself in disc golf. Even for Paul McBeth, it's going to exceed the disc golf community. He could make a name for himself just in anyone's living room, with how good he's playing disc golf.

He just won Des Moines Challenge after getting second at Worlds, and he has so many... There's a stat, I think, for the past eight years no matter what his Worlds finish was, he got first in the tournament after, since 2013.

That's crazy, yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, so the fact that he is still that hungry, he has a lot of room for growth still. He's already the best, and he has all of these younguns that are coming for him. He's going to keep wanting to prove himself time and time again that even with these young people in the people, I've still got it. I've still got it.

Climo had Barry Schultz to compete with.

Yeah.

He didn't have Eagle and Calvin. Yeah.

Yeah.

It would be easy for McBeth to take the $10 million in the McLaren and just coast. His passion and his drive is crazy to watch. All right, so-

It would have been so hard for him to lose when you saw what he was doing since hole 12 of Worlds. It was birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie all the way up to 18. When he goes, for those of you that don't know, there is this thing called "McBeast Mode", like when Paul McBeth goes into McBeast Mode no one can beat him, except for the best shot in disc golf ever, he wasn't going to lose. Definitely love Ken Climo, especially after that interview. I'm still learning so much about the game and it's history, but I got to pick Paul on that one.

Not to go too far into the World Championships, but I'd never watched live him turn on McBeast Mode. There was one hole where James laid up a putt, and then Paul stepped up and it was only maybe 15 feet in front of Jame's shot, and drilled it. I'm like, "Oh, my gosh. He is on. This is going to be fun to watch."

Mm-hmm (affirmative), I was watching it in person. It was insane.

My 15 year old daughter, we were glued to the phone all day watching. She loves Paige, so she was really [crosstalk 00:41:22]-

Oh, that's awesome.

It was fun to see. All right, so Pierce or Korver?

Do you mean Juliana Korver?

Yeah.

Okay.

Both five times.

Yeah, they are both five times, and they're both currently touring. I think Juliana Korver has had the more impressive season so far, having been someone that essentially retired from the game and then decided to come back this season. Every tournament, she kept adding another tournament to her schedule until she was like, "Okay, I'm touring full-time this season." The fact that she is competing with the best and consistently getting top 10, top five is super impressive.

Paige, some people said she had a slow start to her season, but I believe that she totally had it in her to win that World Championship. It was just that pressure of Catrina's shot. For me, they both are really good competitors and I am in awe. I have not played with either of them yet on a card during a tournament. I've played practice rounds with Juliana, not Paige yet. That's harder for me to choose. I think I'm going to pick Paige, purely from knowing that she is 100% all in. Who knows what Juliana is going to keep doing after this season. Obviously, I would love to keep seeing her play.

There is no doubt that Paige has a career in this sport for like the next 10 years. I think time will tell, and time will pick Paige.

Awesome. Thank you for talking with us, disc golf and everything else. It's exciting to follow your career. I can't wait to see where you go from here. For those watching, if hearing us talk about disc golf and get into it, if this doesn't encourage you to go out there and try to pick up a disc and go try... I don't know what else. [crosstalk 00:44:00] for that shot [crosstalk 00:44:02]-

It's so fun, and you get to go to beautiful places.

That was my next question to kind of wrap things up. Where can people find you here in the next couple of months? Where are you going to be? Are you going to be able to hit any pow-wows while you're out there traveling on tour?

I love that question, because actually before I even knew this interview was going to happen, I was looking... I follow Urban Native Era online. They created the unofficial official pow-wow tee for the year. I was looking at it and I was like, "Should I buy this shirt? I really love this shirt." Because I have not gone to a pow-wow since... I think the last event I went to before COVID, it wasn't even a pow-wow, it was the hoop dancing Worlds competition.

Oh, [inaudible 00:44:57]. Yeah.

Yeah, so that was the last thing I had gone to. I definitely need to look at the schedule and would love to find a pow-wow along the way to go to. I'm going to be in the Midwest. I just got off the wait list today for the Discraft Great Lakes Open. That's in Milford, Michigan. Then, Clearwater, Minnesota. Then I'll be at Peoria, Illinois. Then Peoria, I go into Burlington, Kentucky, which is right close to Cincinnati. Then Stafford Open is in New Jersey right next to Philly. I don't know if I'm on the Delaware Disc Golf one, but that one's in Newark.

Then there's three more after that. [inaudible 00:45:50] Open, it's at Maple Hill Disc Golf Course. I don't know what city that is. Green Mountain Championship is in Cambridge, Vermont. Then Music City Open is the PDGA National Tour finale. That's in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm signed up for a few other ones that aren't part of the official tour, so there's one in Myrtle Beach. I think there's one in Atlanta. We have one back home. I'm basically playing disc golf for the rest of the year.

If you look at my PDGA page and I'm on a city near you, you can definitely reach out to me on Instagram and I'll look up stops along the way and see if there's anything that I can go to. I need some pow-wow love in my life, like seriously, badly.

Of course, you're from the west coast. I have to ask, have you been to Gathering? If you have, when was the last time you went?

I have not. I have not. I almost went one year back when I was a professional Ultimate Frisbee player. That took up all of time. If you think about disc golf, that was my time with Ultimate. So, it left me very few free time to go to that.

Again, thanks so much for being here. I appreciate your time tonight.

I appreciate it. Thanks for the great questions.

Thanks.

All right, are you ready to start playing disc golf yet? If you weren't inspired by Leah, what else is it going to take? Go check out some YouTube videos. We talked about the shot on the interview. Google "The Shot James Conrad". Man, disc golf is a great sport, and I hope you'll get out there and give it a try. Thanks, Leah, for being with us on this interview.

Everybody as I promised, I've got a bonus code for you, for the Pendleton blanket giveaway. Ready for it? Here it is: 9972. 9972, that is your special bonus code only for you listeners on this podcast. Go enter that www.PowWows.com/25 and get some special entries in to our Pendleton blanket giveaway. I also want to say a special thank you to the boosters... I call them our Booster Club at PowWows.com. They're our Pow-Pow Nation supporters, and they are making monthly contributions that really help us grow the site.

One of the things we're trying to do in 2021, and really 2022, is we want to get out there and we want to do more webcasts. Travel is still going to be difficult over the next couple of years as we battle this virus. I want to bring more pow-wows to your living room, so you can watch them on your phone, on your computer, on your TV. We want to get out there and stream more pow-wows. Before the pandemic hit, we were doing about 10 or 15 pow-wow streams a year, and we want to do even more.

We need your help. Please, head on over to our Patreon at PowWowNation.com. Consider joining. We'd really appreciate it. Thank you all to the people who have done that. We really appreciate your support, and we are working toward getting more pow-wows out to you live. If you haven't watched one of our pow-wow lives, man you'll be missing a lot. We've got some great ones coming up here in the next couple of months, as long as travel remains open. Keep your fingers crossed for that, and we'll bring some great pow-wows right to your living room.

Again, appreciate your support with that. Www.PowWowNation.com. Thank you all. Again, I'm Paul Gowder with PowWows.com. We record these interviews every Thursday night on Facebook and YouTube Live. I'd love to have you join us live. Or check them out here on the Pow-Wow Life podcast. We release two episodes every Tuesday. Thanks everybody. Stay safe out there. I will see you on the next episode.

Thanks for listening to the Pow-Wow Life podcast from PowWows.com. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get notified of our next episode. Find a pow-wow near you by visiting www.PowWows.com/calendar. Support PowWows.com by visiting www.PowWowNation.com.

From PUL Foundation

Leah Tsinajinnie is of the Roxas clan (Light and Dark clan), born for the Tsé níjíkíní clan (Honey-Combed Rock People clan). Her maternal grandfather is of the Mangubat clan (the People Who Battle clan). She began playing ultimate in Atlanta with Georgia Tech Wreck. In 2013 and 2014, she won the USAU Club Championships with Washington D.C. Scandal. She has traveled around the world to ten countries to coach and compete. Her professional experience in the ultimate community includes volunteering as the USAU Women's College Southeast Regional Director for five years; coaching for nine years at the middle school, high school, and college levels; and serving as a Fellow for the Ultimate Peace nonprofit for a year in the Middle East.

Tsinajinnie currently lives in Atlanta and plays for Ozone and Soul. She received her BSBA in Business Administration from Georgia Tech and is a J.D. Candidate at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. She focused her legal studies on Federal Indian Law, Tribal Law, Public Health Law, and Environmental Law and Sustainability. Her legal experience spanned working at the Tribal, State, and Federal government levels and at nonprofits at the following placements: 

  • CDC, Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, Public Health Law Program, Tribal Public Health Law Intern; 

  • National Council of Urban Indian Health, Legislation and Policy Center, Legal Extern; 

  • McCain Institute, National Security and Counterterrorism Program, Legal Extern; 

  • Arizona Corporation Commission, Commissioners Wing, Legal Intern to Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson; 

  • ASU International Rule of Law and Security, Legal Education Support in Pakistan, Research Assistant; 

  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Legal Assistance Office, Legal Intern; 

  • Mediation Clinic, Certified Mediator; 

  • ASU Indian Legal Clinic, Student Attorney.

Tsinajinnie is passionate about growing sports through a deliberate DEI lens, particularly through our BIPOC community members. She believes that we must use our time and resources, now and every day, in order to empower marginalized groups and positively transform our society. She is incredibly grateful and humbled to be a Board member and looks forward to contributing to its promising initiatives.


Home » Native American Articles » Native Profiles » Leah Tsinajinnie – Navajo Professional Disc Golfer – Pow Wow Life Podcast Episode 32


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